“There are lots of reasons why you, a middling academic, might want to edit or contribute to a collection of essays. These include pride, intellectual kudos or, in the UK, a need to boost your likely rating in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The one thing you don’t do it for is the royalty cheque which is small or, more probably, non-existent.
On the other hand, at least accepting the invitation won’t cost you, except in time. Or will it? Increasingly, you would be wise to look carefully at the contract before you agree to it….
In the old days, contracts didn’t amount to much. You would probably guarantee originality and that, to the best of your knowledge, your work was not defamatory or illegal, but that was it. No longer, however. One publisher (I won’t name it, but it’s part of a major international conglomerate) insists on a contract stating that “the Author will indemnify and hold harmless the Publishers against any loss, damages, injury, costs and expenses (including any legal costs or expenses, and any compensation costs paid by the Publishers) arising from any alleged facts or circumstances which, if true, would constitute a breach of the warranty”.
Even if such verbiage makes your eyes glaze over, think carefully. You’re guaranteeing to pay from your own pocket, without limitation, for all the consequences to the publisher of any breach of copyright, libel or breach of privacy….: